Today, I want to introduce you to Jen from Working at Homeschool. She’s a momma of four, has a beautiful heart for the Lord and is passionate about bible based homeschooling. Today she is sharing some great tips for new homeschooling mommas. Welcome Jen!
I definitely learn by trial and error, and unfortunately, I’ve made a lot of errors when it comes to homeschooling. While my oldest is now in fifth grade, and I know there’s a LOT for me to learn, I’ve picked up a few tips from veteran homeschool moms over the years that have kept our homeschool years enjoyable.
DO choose a good curriculum that will work for both your child’s learning style AND your teaching style. There are SO many options for homeschooling today, and it’s tough to know what to choose…or even which direction to take. There are many amazing homeschool review websites, and you can’t go wrong with Cathy Duffy’s reviews. You can also talk to other homeschooling moms you know to see what worked (or didn’t) for them. In previous years I’ve chosen curriculum that was all wrong for us, and due to financial constraints we just had to forge ahead. If you choose something you don’t love, there’s always next year! But it certainly doesn’t hurt to do some research and choose something that looks like it will be a good fit.
DO take it easy! Homeschooling is not a competition. Maybe your best friend’s child was reading at 3. And maybe your child isn’t reading until 7. Both are OK! This might challenge your way of thinking – I definitely struggled with it! One of the most important things I’ve learned from other homeschooling moms is that your child will learn at his own pace. That’s one of the most beautiful parts of homeschooling – customizing your homeschool to meet your child’s individual needs. For my daughter’s Pre-K year, I had her working at a desk for hours every day. It was WAY too much for her, and consequently I fostered a hatred for learning. It was one of my greatest homeschooling mistakes to date. Remember that your goal is to create a lifelong love for learning, not just complete a workbook by the end of the year.
DON’T stay in the house! If you’re feeling chained to your curriculum, you might feel chained to your house. It’s SO IMPORTANT that you get out and take breaks to avoid burnout. Go for a nature walk, take school to the library, do your read-alouds at the local park. Enjoy the weather while the weather is nice, and never forget that your kids are still kids who need to play and get dirty!
DO try different environments in your home. Our first year, we only had room for school in the dining room. Eventually we had a designated homeschool room, but I realized quickly that I was trying to recreate a traditional school environment at home, and that just didn’t work for us. But it might work well for some! Now we have school in the dining room or living room, but one of the things we love is moving wherever we like to learn.
DO consider waiting. There’s a great book called “Better Late Than Early” that advocates starting school later rather than earlier. I don’t agree 100% with everything in the book, but I definitely saw how our pre-k year trampled my oldest daughter’s creativity. There is much to be learned from play. After that disastrous year, we decided to forego a curriculum for pre-K and Kindergarten at all, and just learn letters, shapes, numbers, and colors in a very relaxed environment with lots of games, music, and fun. Without a curriculum for Pre-K and K, we’ve saved a lot of money and ensured that our kids still love to learn. Best of all, without Pre-K and K they have still gone into 1st grade at or above grade level!
DO connect with other homeschool moms. Online, at church, at a co-op…wherever you can find homeschooling moms, reach out! Sometimes you just need a little support and encouragement, and who better to offer it than someone who has been there?
DO give yourself a break! You and your kids are home all day. One might think that means that you have more time to do chores, but in reality, you have dishes from three meals a day, far more clutter, more playtime, crafts, lots of extra homeschool papers…I could go on and on. It would drive me crazy to homeschool in a messy environment, yes, but I don’t worry about perfection! Whatever you don’t accomplish today can be done tomorrow.
Last, DO have fun! There’s so much to enjoy about homeschooling. What a privilege it is to be the one to teach your child every day! I heard it said once that our children’s lives are like empty journals. Someone is writing on every page, filling them up with ideas, influences, and even doctrine that will shape who they become as adults. What an amazing responsibility and privilege it is that WE get to be the ones “writing” in our children’s lives! I’m so thankful that I am shaping and influencing my kids on a minute-by-minute basis. There is much to enjoy about homeschooling – find those moments and treasure them!